CPU Performance

While multitasking on Surface 2 can struggle, the same really can’t be said for Surface Pro 2. The tablet is effectively a Haswell Ultrabook, capable of delivering the exact same performance as a 2013 MacBook Air – but in the form factor of a thick tablet. The performance of Intel’s Core i5-4200U is a fairly known quantity at this point, but to put Surface Pro 2’s tablet performance in perspective here are some comparisons to the best of the best in the ARM tablet space.

I ran tests using both Chrome and IE11, the latter is really only optimized for SunSpider and horribly unoptimized for everything else. In general you're multiple times better performance than what you can get from a quad-core Cortex A15 based device. If we look at Kraken, Surface Pro 2 running IE11 completes the test in 1/4 the time as Surface 2 running the same browser.

SunSpider 0.9.1 Benchmark

SunSpider 1.0 Benchmark

Mozilla Kraken Benchmark (Stock Browser)

Google Octane v1

Browsermark 2.0

WebXPRT - Overall Score

GPU Performance

Intel’s HD 4400 is good enough for light gaming and is a huge step above what you can find in a traditional ARM based tablet. Microsoft only gave us a few days to review both devices so I didn’t have a ton of time to re-characterize the performance of Intel’s HD 4400, but I’ve done that elsewhere already.

GLBenchmark 2.7 - T-Rex HD (Onscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.7 - T-Rex HD (Offscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD (Onscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD (Offscreen)

3DMark Unlimited - Ice Storm

Storage Performance

My review sample appears to have a SK Hynix based SSD. I ran it through the same modified IO tests I did on the ASUS T100:

Our Android IO tests rely on Androbench with a relatively limited LBA span. I increased the difficulty of the test a bit under Windows 8.1 but still kept it reasonable since we are dealing with eMMC solutions. I’m testing across a 1GB LBA span and testing for a period of 1 minute, which is an ok balance between difficulty of workload and sensitivity to the fact that we’re evaluating low-class SSDs here.

Surface Pro 2 is a completely different league of IO performance. The number to pay attention here is the tremendous increase in random write performance compared to the eMMC solutions we’ve tested. I suspect the gap increases if we were to look at worst case sustained random write performance. Killer sequential performance definitely helps Surface Pro 2 feel quick.

Storage Performance - 256KB Sequential Reads

Storage Performance - 256KB Sequential Writes

Storage Performance - 4KB Random Reads

Storage Performance - 4KB Random Writes

Display Battery Life
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  • repoman27 - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    The Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch medium tablet provides equivalent pen and touch capabilities to the Surface Pro 2 (similar active area with 1024 pressure levels, multi-touch, etc.) and costs $199. Even with the Wireless Accessory Kit it only comes to $239, and you can use it with any Mac or Windows PC you care to.

    The last microSD card I purchased (Lexar 600x) came with a free (and tiny) USB 3.0 microSDXC UHS-I card reader, so I wouldn't place a particularly high value on that feature.
  • beggerking@yahoo.com - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    stop kid yourself.

    drawing on a tablet is DIFFERENT from drawing on a screen. you might as well draw using a mouse...

    drawing on a touchscreen like the Wacom pad (similiar to Pro) on the other hand, allows much much better productivity.
  • beggerking@yahoo.com - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    omg stop kid yourself... so you rather have to bring a card reader with you all the time vs just have it build in?

    fyi, iCrap pad doesn't even have a usb
  • Penti - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    Apple doesn't sell any tablet (PC) only their mobile tablets on ARMv7/v8 (soon 64-bit). Modbook does have a USB (3) port, MicroSD/SD, Thunderbolt, Firewire and ethernet port. Plus 1024 pressure levels. It's the mid-2012 MBP 13 though. The third party modification that is. It's still better than some other offerings, has wacom and all the software support. Writing on the screen is more for notes and sketches rather then work though. Having a wacom tablet and an external monitor is what you do for your work.

    Plus your kidding your self if you think this is comparable to an enterprise convertible Tablet-PC that you don't have to remove the keyboard to write or paint on it from Lenovo, Fujitsu or HP.
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    Most of my microSD cards live in USB card readers and I use them as I would USB thumb drives. If Microsoft had specced a full size SDXC UHS-I card reader here, it might actually be useful. I'm not sure what the point of a built-in microSD slot on this device is.

    Also, this thread has gone a little nuts, but I believe we were comparing the Surface Pro 2 to the MacBook Air (11-inch, mid 2013) since they are priced the same and use very similar hardware despite the difference in form factor. However, since you bring up iPads, they do have USB, they just use a proprietary connector on the device side. Most iOS accessories communicate via good ol' fashioned USB. Device class / driver / application support is obviously spotty for devices that weren't designed as part of the MFi program, but many HIDs work just fine anyway.
  • nerd1 - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Air has CRAPPY TN display, no touch screen, no active digitizer, cannot be used as tablet. HD5000 doesn't mean anything - you still cannot play any proper game anyway.
  • repoman27 - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Actually, the MacBook Air has a very well calibrated TN display with decent brightness and contrast levels and an appropriate resolution for a PC screen of that size.

    Yes, the Surface Pro 2 is much higher resolution and packs almost twice the pixels of the 11-inch Air, but it also ships with DPI scaling set to 150% by default, which makes the effective pixel density 139 ppi, which is awfully close to the MBA's 135 ppi. It also drops the effective desktop area to 1280x720, which is less than 1366x768, and it has 16.5% less viewable area to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for more pixels, but the 11-inch MBA doesn't have to deal with any DPI scaling that could get messy on a traditional desktop OS in order to provide essentially the same usable desktop area. The Surface Pro 2's screen does go 36% brighter and has a contrast ratio that is almost 50% higher, but uncalibrated dE 2000 values are at best a push with the MBA. The Surface Pro 2 being IPS and all should have a larger gamut than the MBA, but I haven't seen any directly comparable numbers yet as far as that goes.

    The bottom line is that I think both Microsoft and Apple specced the displays they needed to for their respective devices, but Apple is still more aggressive with factory calibration.

    The MacBook Air can never be a tablet, but it is very good at what it does. The Surface Pro can be a tablet or a notebook replacement, but it definitely makes some compromises to fit in that space. Unfortunately, I feel like even with round two, Microsoft is still making more compromises than they need to.
  • jasonelmore - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    Pixel density effectively, or non effectively is the same no matter if there is DPI Scaling or not.
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    True dat. The point I was trying to make is that MS scales the UI elements by default to be exactly the same size as they would be on the MBA. Of course all the pixels are still there, which works brilliantly for apps that can handle them properly and not so brilliant for many others that weren't expecting a 208 ppi display. I kinda feel like a lot of the reason for wanting a full Windows Pro x86 tablet is for running desktop apps that unfortunately don't handle dpi scaling very well.
  • Silma - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    How qualified are you to make such a statement?
    How long have you been using the Surface Pro 2 as a desktop replacement?
    Please stop the B.S. already.

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